Perspectives: What society has in common with wet cement

OPINION – Some of the most serious conflicts in our society today have their roots in the difference between forms and issues.

The fact that many otherwise informed individuals have no idea what is meant by “forms” is a key reason for this.

Forms are best described as the foundational structure or principles that characterize what something is.

In construction, workers will use different forms for the various concrete structures that will be part of their finished project. Different forms are required for walls or stairs than would be used to make a floor or a driveway. The forms are what determine the ultimate purpose of what the wet concrete will eventually become.

They must be in place before the concrete is poured to contain it, shape it, and keep it true to its intended purpose. In other words, they prevent it from becoming something it was not intended to become. Without the clear limits of its correct form, the wet concrete would simply flow wherever gravity took it.

It would become useless.

In the same fashion, the use of correct forms play a key role in how a society functions. There are governmental forms such as our national or state constitutions. These call into existence a system of civil government and define its purposes, powers, and limits.

For instance, a republican form of government differs from that of a monarchy or an oligarchy. When political pressure seeks to change an existing form of government into something it wasn’t intended to be, a citizenry who understands correct forms can steer it back onto course. This is how liberty is maintained.

There are also societal and familial forms that contribute to the stability and functionality of a culture.

The family is one of them. Marriage is another.

Unlike government, these crucial forms do not come into existence by putting official words onto paper. They are the product of thousands of years of human experience and billions of minds evaluating best practices throughout the history of mankind.

It’s noteworthy that throughout recorded history, the basic form of marriage and family has remained quite constant: A man and a woman combined in a lifelong commitment and caring for the children they create. This pattern is found in religious and nonreligious societies as well as in advanced and primitive cultures.

Where correct forms are in place, societies benefit at all levels. Where they are corrupted or discarded, societies decline. This can be seen in our inner cities where rejection of correct familial forms has created successive generations of disorder, poverty, illegitimacy, crime, and dependency.

Likewise, the rejection of correct governmental forms has resulted in a very different standard of freedom than was enjoyed by earlier generations.

We labor under a metastasizing bureaucracy that racks up astronomical debt while claiming virtually unlimited power over every aspect of our lives.

This growing bondage is part of the price of not knowing the difference between an issue and a form.

Issues are generally emotional reactions to perceived problems, which, more often than not, arise when we depart from correct forms. Those in power often use issues to keep us distracted and squabbling.

Just watch 30 minutes of network television and it’s easy to see that the discussions almost always focus on issues rather than forms. It’s nearly impossible to solve a problem when the debate is deliberately constructed to prevent us from asking the right questions.

Scottish historian Alexander Tytler described a cycle that follows the rise and decline of great civilizations. The roughly 200-year cycle showed that nations tend to move from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, then to apathy, then dependence, and finally to bondage.

Tytler’s Cycle showed that when civilizations were in their ascendancy, their focus was on the forms that provided structure and direction. Conversely, when the civilizations were in decline, their focus and their efforts were on issues.

This pattern can be seen in American history.

If asked where America is on the Tytler Cycle, most people would objectively place us somewhere between complacency and bondage. This is not a popular thing to acknowledge, but it’s better than wasting our time endlessly chasing issues.

Once in bondage, the only way back to liberty and abundance is when the people once again begin to exercise the spiritual faith that leads them to courage. This speaks to the need for leaders who can inspire others to reclaim these qualities.

Are we preparing to become those leaders?

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • Steve D January 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    ” It’s nearly impossible to solve a problem when the debate is deliberately constructed to prevent us from asking the right questions.” That’s deep-seated – existential even -thinking. However it’s ironic that, knowingly, unknowingly, whatever, the people from Utah inadvertently support the taking of children from traditional families letting them become adoptable by any kind of family the government deems “legal.”

  • bub January 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    “Once in bondage, the only way back to liberty and abundance is when the people once again begin to exercise the spiritual faith that leads them to courage”


  • Roy J January 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Although I agree with you about correct forms up to a point, the reality of what political structure is best for a state depends in large part on the people themselves. In some cases even a despotic government may be the best form of government. Sometimes it is a case between lesser evils in government, as we see in our elections nearly every year, rather than clearly established goods. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be some goal of citizenship always in mind, but just what is that goal, may I ask? The goal is going to determine what form is to be taken as much as the social state of the people. I think only after these three causes have been studied and stated can we determine what kind of leaders (or creative causes if you prefer) we should aim at being, if we can. In any case, I would throw the republican ideal into the garbage heap of history if had become clear that it was causing positive harm to the citizens and tearing the country apart; I would seek some other method to save the state. This is exactly the case that France found itself laboring under Robespierre and the Reign of Terror.

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